Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our Day in Wien - then Graz

The New Year in Wien (Vienna) - After our wonderful evening at the KaiserBall, noon was the best we could do at getting our sorry bums out of bed and out the door to see some of Wien.  The streets seemed fairly quiet, which made us think a trip to Demel might not require the usual 30+ minute wait to taste all those delectable items.  Boy - were we wrong!  So - we paid our dues by waiting in line, and were not disappointed by the plates delivered to our table - nor by the old world charm of the Murano glass chandeliers and sconces everywhere and my comfy little sofa/settee.  Can you just taste it -

 Guess who gets what!?!?!

My view from my settee.

We had about 2 hours before our dinner reservations and knew if we returned to the room, we would be out like lights.  This charming little concert room in one of the many Mozart houses was to have a chamber concert.  The timing was perfect  -

Seating only 60 guests...

The acoustics were terrific!

Our day began sooooo late, that we had to utilize the morning of the 2nd (before we left for Graz) to see the Imperial Apartments in the Hofburg Palace, as well as the Treasury, where the Royal Jewels are kept. It was a real "Speed Tour, but we came, we saw and we (well maybe) conquered.  Sorry - no pictures allowed in these special places;-(

It was very good that we only had a two hour drive, again - this time from Vienna to Graz - as that was about all we could endure.  (We will be in real trouble when we get to the five hour drive from Verona to Wengen!)  Our hotel is right on the freeway, so it was easy to find.  The decision of a quick dinner at the hotel and trying to get a good night's sleep so we could get an early start to tackling Graz in the morning seemed in order.  This Marriott was disappointing after the wonderful experience in Vienna - but, we just planned to be in the room VERY little!

We are getting earlier in the morning - but, it was still 10 before we were out the door;-(

The entire old city of Graz was designated a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1999 - the "best preserved city centre of Central Europe".  It displays a combination of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture - as well as some VERY modern sites!   Here is our tour of Graz in pictures -

 The Glockenspiel (couldn't time it right to see the windows open and the wooden figures dance;-( )

 Not an example of fine architecture - just a FANTASTIC lunch spot!!

 The Hauptplatz (Main Square) with the Town Hall standing behind the Archduke Johann 

The dominant site in the Old Town is the Schlossberg - a rock ridge towering 473 meters (approx. 1500 feet) over the town.  Over 1,000 years ago a small fort stood on  the rock ledge - and this gave the city its name.  Derived from the Slavic word 'Gradec', Graz means "little castle".  After 1544 the small fort was extended into a huge Renaissance fortress, listed in the Guinness book of Records as the strongest fortification of all time.  Why?  Because it rebuked Napoleon and 3,000 of his troops THREE times!!

You can climb the almost 300 steps to the top of the Schlossberg - however we opted for the funicular.  So - our first site at the top was the Bell Tower -

Old Bell Tower 

 The Hackher Lion (not the lion in the black hat) - the monument to the last military defender of the fortress - Major Franz Xaver Freiherr von Hackher

 The traditional landmark of the city - The Clock Tower on Schlossberg

 Our way down!!

The gorgeous streets of Graz in the evening with all the Christmas lights;-)

And so our day ends in Graz - and our days in Austria.  It has been a fantasy - from the Cinderella/Kaiser Ball to the sight above.

Tomorrow Zagreb, Croatia awaits with the Men's World Cup Slalom race.  Another really new experience.

Until the next internet connection - love to all - E & G

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